The Role of Media in Political Polarization| Inoculation Can Reduce the Perceived Reliability of Polarizing Social Media Content
Little research is available on psychological interventions that counter susceptibility to polarizing online content. We conducted 3 studies (n1 = 472, n2 = 193, n3 = 772) to evaluate whether psychological resistance against polarizing social media content can be conferred, using the Bad News game, a “technique-based inoculation” intervention that simulates a social media feed. We investigate (1) whether technique-based inoculation can reduce susceptibility to content designed to fuel intergroup polarization; (2) whether technique-based inoculation can offer cross-protection against misinformation techniques that people were not inoculated against; and (3) whether political ideology plays a role in how people engage with anti-misinformation interventions. In Studies 1 and 3 (but not Study 2), we found that technique-based inoculation significantly reduces the perceived reliability of polarizing content and offers partial cross-protection against untreated misinformation techniques. We found no effect for attitudinal certainty and news-sharing intentions. Finally, we report preliminary evidence that people may choose to engage with politically congruent news topics within the intervention.